When Arkat razed Dorastor he left many Guardians behind so that the land would be protected from Chaos. One of these was the Shadow Mages within Arkatís Last Tower, a fortress he had built before he left Dorastor.
The Shadow Mages were a brotherhood of Mages who worshipped the Invisible God but were also Stygians and accepted the worship of Darkness Cults and some Star Cults. They had become friendly with Arkat as they recognised him as being a manifestation of their greatest Power - The Secret of Light Within. Ever since, Shadow Mages have been tied to the cult of Arkat, albeit loosely.
They kept the Tower safe even when the God Learners smashed the power of Arkat to the south. In fact, the God Learners who awakened Ralzakark had originally come to defeat the Shadow Mages and were looking for allies as their first attempt had been repulsed.
Over the years, Arkatís Last Tower had been attacked by many forces but always seemed to hang on, despite everything. However, the Shadow Mages had weakened in Power as there were now only a few left. Even though those remained were extremely powerful individually, if one was killed it out extra strain on the others.
The PCs were all Illuminated, with the exception of Bolgar. The Shadow Mages were all members of Arkat. This was not a good situation. So the Shadow mages gave them an ultimatum - join Arkat and become Good Illuminates following the Bright Side of the Force, or we will kill you. I know, that was the stupid mistake I made. I hadnít thought it through properly. Donít tell me, I know what a prat I was. What should have happened was the Shadow Mages letting the party go and keeping tabs on them, checking for any signs of Dark Side affiliations then killing, or attempting to kill, those members of the party who showed these tendencies.
What actually happened was that Brankist hated joining the cult and actively resisted it, learning and abusing Sorcery just so that I would throw him out. Derak, master Illuminate and walker on the Dark Side, became a good Arkati and read all the books in the Library. After a while, he could use Ingest Scroll and managed to read the books a lot faster. I know the quote about "better having the bastards inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in", but this was going too far. Dennis managed to join the cult of Arkat and became a Shadow Mage, the only character to take membership seriously. Tom, Dennisí player, did not like him being a generic sorcerer and wanted to give him some roots - the Shadow Mages and Arkat gave him character which he sadly lacked. Of course, he ended up as a mad scientist doing experiments on trollkin with some surgical instruments from the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, but whatever keeps you happy does you good, I suppose.
Eventually, the Shadow Mages were forced out of Arkatís Last Tower after a disastrous HeroQuest to help the party and came to live with Dennis in Balazar. They returned to Dorastor to offer their help to Brankist but he turned them down flat, calling them a bunch of power hungry maniacs who were out to get him. You can see that the Arkat cult had done him serious damage.
Brankist was allowed to leave the cult of Arkat as long as he forgot his sorcery. He left but hung on to his sorcery, claiming that Zzabur had re-taught him the spells. He was going to be investigated and punished by the Shadow Mages at some stage, I can tell you.
Derak remained in Arkat and uncovered some of the secrets of the cult that had been broken by the God Learners. He was trying to take Arkatís Reverse Path and needed the inside track, so I was being especially lenient with him. The Shadow Mages banned him from the Library several times, eventually hiding it from him and guarding it with the strongest Shadow (It had around 300 POW and was not afraid of casting spells on its opponents and had access to Sever Spirit, so even Derak was careful around this one.)
Dennis became a Captain of Arkat and awakened his Shadow which soon became a master sorcerer in its own right (he dumped most of his POW into it). That combined with Ghoul and Shade familiars meant that Dennis had three Enchantment Factories which he used to their full capacity. Gross, I know, but he was the weakest member of the party, originally rolled up as a bodyguard for Bolgar in an earlier campaign and had progressed, so I wanted him to have a major part to play. To Tomís credit, he did and became possibly the most interesting and likeable of Tomís characters (although all were interesting, strange because Tom is an accountant by trade and you canít get less interesting than that!)
The PCs were wary of the Shadow Mages all the time, never entirely trusting them and trying to suck all they could out of them. They thought that as they were old and had Ancient Secrets they had their own agenda and were trying to manipulate the party. Of course, they were not, they were merely trying to survive. Even so, the Party were determined not to be manipulated, so I had to settle on the Lord General of Death, The Sultan of Vanch, The Red Emperor, The Vampires of the Tower of Lead, Uzarl and Jar Eel to manipulate the party instead. Itís good to be a GM, you know.